Sanguinarine, a phototoxic H2O2-producing alkaloid

Photochem Photobiol. 1989 Dec;50(6):733-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1751-1097.1989.tb02903.x.


Sanguinarine chloride, a quaternary salt of a benzophenanthrene alkaloid, was phototoxic to catalase-deficient strains of Escherichia coli but not to Trichoplusia ni (cabbage looper moth larvae), an insect with high levels of catalase activity. Chemical analyses confirm that sanguinarine is an efficient producer of H2O2. This differential toxicity suggests that the mode of phototoxic action involves production of H2O2 which could be detoxified in many organisms by catalase.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Alkaloids / pharmacology*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Benzophenanthridines
  • Escherichia coli / drug effects*
  • Escherichia coli / genetics
  • Escherichia coli / radiation effects
  • Hydrogen Peroxide*
  • Isoquinolines
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Photochemistry
  • Ultraviolet Rays


  • Alkaloids
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Benzophenanthridines
  • Isoquinolines
  • sanguinarine
  • Hydrogen Peroxide